The Good: The Offense (Mostly)
The Hawkeye offense rebounded after a hapless performance against Penn State with a 28-point explosion against the Boilermakers. Nate Stanley looked his old self, completing 21 of 32 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. The 65.6% completion percentage was his second best in conference play and it was only the second time all year that he’s gone a game without throwing an interception. Stanley also added a touchdown on the ground, one of four rushing touchdowns. Toren Young was Iowa’s leading rusher with 45 yards on nine attempts and was also the only back to average 5 YPC. Sargent and Kelly-Martin combined for three touchdowns, but only averaged 3.9 YPC.
Noah Fant, Iowa’s best offensive player, was electric: three receptions for 85 yards, with a long of 65 yards. The 65 yard reception was nothing short of beautiful:
— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) November 3, 2018
Hockenson was second in yardage, with 39 yards and responsible for Iowa’s only receiving touchdown of the day. There was balance across the board on offense, as Stanley hooked up with nine different receivers. The offense kept the Hawkeyes in the game…until the final drive…and that’s when it really mattered.
The Bad: The Good Stories
You know what the Good Stories are, right? Good Stories are Kirk Ferentz union card guys. Guys who usually come to Iowa either as walk-ons or 2-star recruits and who are built into honorable mention All-Big Ten players. Sometimes they’re even built into first round NFL Draft picks. Those are the guys that the pro-Ferentz crowd will die on a hill by.
Unfortunately, a lot of those guys struggle early on in their careers and sometimes it can cost Iowa football games. Hell, some of those guys even struggle throughout their entire career and force us to ask the age old question of whether or not Ferentz values loyalty and hard work over talent and potential (he does) and what sort of detriment it has to the football team (undeterminable).
So let’s talk about Riley Moss, the true freshman cornerback who ended up getting benched on Saturday. See, when Moss was announced as the starter I immediately said “oh no.” Then, he played well against Minnesota in his first career start. He followed up that performance with another good start against Maryland and so on and so forth. Well, as it turns out, that was all fool’s gold because Minnesota was just boatraced by Illinois, Indiana lost to that same Minnesota team and Penn State was just blanked by Michigan. All of those teams that we thought were decent are actually bad.
Jeff Brohm knew that Moss was the weakest link. Just like he knew that Manny Rugamba was the weakest link last season. So he told David Blough to always look his direction, as Terry Wright, a one-time 3-star recruit with actual offers from other FBS schools, could exploit that matchup. Oh boy, did Terry Wright exploit that matchup. He exploited it to the tune of 146 yards and three touchdowns on six catches. Moss was eventually replaced by Ojemudia but just like in 2017, it was too late.
Let’s move onto Colten Rastetter, our walk-on punter that had escaped criticism for weeks due to some steady, albeit unspectacular play. This game really tested Rastetter and exploited his greatest weakness as a punter, which is, of course, punting the football. On five punts he averaged a measly 35 yards per punt. His opposite, Joe Schopper, averaged 54.3 yards per punt. Rastetter’s leg strength (or lack thereof) was no more evident than on Iowa’s final possession of the game.
When the Iowa offense botched their final possession, they found themselves in a 4th and 19 at their own 19-yard line. Pinned deep in their own territory, they needed Rastetter to give his best effort and flip the field. Because Iowa plays field position football in close games and if they want good field position, they need a good punter.
Rastetter punted the ball 31 yards and gave the Boilermakers the ball at the 50-yard line.
He didn’t even rugby punt it. He just punted it normally.
We know how Purdue's drive ended.
It was not a good day for the Good Stories.
The Ugly: Losing the Exact Same Way
Going back to Moss…I mean…wow. You really have to give it to Jeff Brohm. He coached circles around Ferentz last season when he did nothing more than throw it again and again at Iowa’s most suspect cornerback. I mean, it wasn’t some sort of Gus Malzahn scheme. He just said “I’m going to tell my quarterback to throw it at your most vulnerable player.”
And then he did it again! That’s exactly what he did this year! It’s not rocket science!
Chris Brown (not that one) had this to say:
Purdue up 21-10 on Iowa. I am good with the idea that Brohm has Ferentzs number (a lot of game to play), though the answer the past two years seems to be long bombs down the sideline
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) November 3, 2018
The officiating was bad, sure. The officiating didn’t cost Iowa the game. Ferentz chasing points on those two point conversations was bad, sure. Point chasing didn’t cost Iowa the game. The Iowa defense giving up 434 yards of offense and five touchdowns cost them the game. And questionable personnel decisions and lack of pressure on the quarterback is how they lost it.
I don’t know why Fant isn’t on the field more. I don’t know why Ivory Kelly-Martin is Iowa’s starting running back despite him having the lowest YPC of any backfield option. I don’t know why Stanley isn’t getting the ball to his tight ends at least once a drive. I don’t know why some guys continue to start following disastrous performances. I don’t have those answers.
I just fall back to blaming the system. Iowa’s system is built on such a slim margin of error that if any one person fails in their duties, the system collapses. Iowa lost their second straight game by less than a touchdown and just like every other loss, it was a game the Hawkeyes could’ve/should’ve won. But, unfortunately, a college player (or two) struggled and Iowa lost. So Iowa is now 6-3, not 9-0. And this will continue to be the way the program exists unless the Hawkeyes get extremely lucky and every ball bounces there way. That’s not how college football works but hey, that’s how Iowa plays football.